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Peoria Elections Chief Defends Handling Of Mail-In Ballots

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Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio
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Peoria County Election Commission Executive Director Thomas Bride

Peoria County Election Commission Executive Director Tom Bride says his office is following all state laws and rules regarding mail-in ballot tabulation.This comes after a Peoria mayoral candidate accused the commission of mishandling absentee ballots counted on April 8. Through an attorney, Jim Montelongo claims poor record keeping makes it impossible to tell when mail-in ballots were received by the election authority.

Those ballots put his challenger, Rita Ali, in the lead. She widened that lead to 35 votes upon additional tabulation on Monday.

Bride said the mail-in ballots are sealed, bar-coded, and kept in a locked room under constant surveillance. He says the ballots are only opened by election judges -- one Democrat and one Republican.

Bride said the office has been using the same procedures for mail-in ballots for the last several years. He declined to make recorded comments in-person, but did send a written statement to WCBU.

The Illinois State Board of Elections said the case falls outside its jurisdiction. An ISBE spokesperson said the compliance determination falls to the Peoria County state's attorney's office, or to a Peoria County circuit judge, should Montelongo lose and contest the results.

The final round of vote-by-mail ballot counts will be April 20, for any ballots postmarked on or before April 6. The election will be certified April 21.

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